More help needed
Calls grow to support the ‘left behind’ sectors
Many in the creative industries have received no support
The UK government will today be urged to help the events sector and freelancers who have not yet received any support during the coronavirus pandemic.
A debate will take place in the Commons to focus on the UK’s creative industries which were growing at five times the rate of the economy as a whole prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Up to three million people have been identified as the “left behinds” and are facing the added prospect of higher taxes to help pay for the support handed to other sectors.
– owner-managers of limited companies who have historically paid themselves via dividends rather than salary
– freelancers, such as those working in the theatre, television and film industries
– those involved in the full-time letting of flats and homes, as such income is officially regarded as investment income rather than self-employed earnings
– and those self-employed individuals who have started their businesses in 2019/20 (and 2018/19 in some cases).
Robert Salter, a director at tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg, said: “the Government has still ‘ignored’ significant groups of workers with the updated arrangements – the so-called ‘left behinds’ remain left behind under the most recently announced plans.”
He said: “ For a Government, which has always talked about supporting small businesses and encouraging an entrepreneurial economy, it is surprising that [the Chancellor] Mr Sunak continues to ignore the needs of up to three million people who are estimated to be in this group of left behinds.
He added: “Such workers are likely to face additional taxes in the coming years and the reality of additional taxes, poor economic growth because of Covid and the absolute lack of any real support represent a real ‘triple whammy’ for this group.”
SNP MP Owen Thompson will today raise concerns in a debate in the Commons.
He said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Tory government at Westminster has failed to engage with the pressing concerns of the events industry – the sixth biggest industry in the UK economy.
“The industry now faces a devastating future unless the UK government wake up to the problems in front of it. The industry is desperate to get around the table with UK Ministers and thrash out a meaningful support package to save them from certain collapse.
“So far the rhetoric from the Prime Minister and his Tory colleagues is far from welcome – to look professionals in this hugely important sector in the eye and tell them to retain for other jobs shows a staggering contempt for the workers that keep the economy running.
“Time is running out for the events sector – unless urgent action is taken by Westminster, the jobs crisis facing the UK will be far worse than anticipated. This is completely unavoidable and could be fixed with the stroke of the Chancellor’s pen.”
Food standards move rejected
MPs have rejected the latest attempt to require imported food to meet domestic legal standards from 1 January.
They threw out a Lords amendment to the Agriculture Bill to force trade deals to meet UK animal welfare and food safety rules.
Campaigners have warned the UK could be forced to accept lower standards to secure a future US trade deal.
But Farming minister Victoria Prentis said the government was “absolutely committed to high standards”.
Existing laws would safeguard them, she told the House of Commons, adding that these were “of more use than warm words” in maintaining animal welfare, food standards and environmental protections.
The government says EU rules banning imports of chlorine-washed chicken and other products will be automatically written into UK law once the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.
The SNP accused the UK government of “firing the starting gun on a post-Brexit race to the bottom”.
The SNP’s Shadow DEFRA Secretary Deidre Brock MP said: “Rather than heeding warnings from dozens of organisations in Scotland representing farmers, consumers, health experts, food producers and charities, the Tories ploughed ahead with their reckless plans that could see our high standards being watered down to facilitate trade deals – threatening to undermine businesses.